Center for Strategic Communication

[ by Charles Cameron — a computer virus with mild Mahdist implications ]

Mahdi: targeted entities, credit: Seculert via Wired


Ah. From a religious studies standpoint, the targeting here is curious.

Iran is the country of the Mahdaviat, the nation whose President, wreathed in light, prays at the United Nationsfor the soon coming of the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace, the Mahdi.


My own concern is not with the virus, but with the religious connotations of the name that has been given to it.

For those whose concern is with the virus itself, I’d suggest the Wired article, although if blog-friends involved in computer security would like to offer further pointers, I’m sure our readers would welcome them.


In case you were wondering, here are the key paras regarding the implications as I see them, from the Jerusalem Post:

Seculert and Kaspersky dubbed the campaign Mahdi, a term referring to the prophesied redeemer of Islam, because evidence suggests the attackers used a folder with that name as they developed the software to run the project.

They also included a text file named mahdi.txt in the malicious software that infected target computers.

and from the Wired coverage:

The infections in Iran and Israel, along with the Farsi strings, suggest the malware may be the product of Iran, used to spy primarily on domestic targets but also on targets in Israel and a handful of surrounding countries. But the malware could also be a product of Israel or another country that’s simply been salted with Farsi strings in order to point the finger at Tehran.


So we really can’t tell if it’s the Mahdi (Islam’s awaited one) or the Dajjal (Islam’s antichrist figure)?


Here, for your edification, is the potrait of the Dajjal from the cover of Okasha Abdelmannan al-Tibi’s The Whole Truth about the Antichrist (courtesy of JP Filiu):

image credit: J-P Filiu, Apocalypse in Islam

According to the tradition as narrated by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, the Prophet said:

I turned my face to see another man with a huge body, red complexion and curly hair and blind in one eye. His eye looked like a protruding out grape. They said (to me), He is Ad-Dajjal.

And here is a portrait of the Mahdi, the “Birth of Hope” — insofar as the artist Mahmoud Farshchian feels able to depict him:

image credit: Mahmoud Farshchian


While it’s pretty clear that neither Mahdi or Dajjal could be a computer virus, it also seems likely that the virus is associated, either mockingly or sympathetically, with the Mahdi — an indicator, if nothing else, that this end-times figure once little known outside Shi’ite Islam has by now become part of a wider “universe of discourse” and general conversation.

Mahdi has arrived among the geeks.